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Recap / Mystery Science Theater 3000 S03 E20: The Unearthly

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Films watched: Posture Pals (short), Appreciating Our Parents (short) and The Unearthly

It is available on Shout! Factory TV here.

The Segments:

  • The 'Bots are filming a funny home video involving Crow, a blowtorch, and a stack of highly-flammable pajamas.

Segment 1/Invention Exchange

  • Crow is a smoldering wreck, but the video is hilarious. Dr. Forrester's invention is a series of literal tough pills to swallow, like vitamins with fish hooks inside them and life-size Flintstones chewables. Joel shows off a set of unusual celebrity-endorsed home appliances, like "Emilio Esta-Pez" and "Jackie Mason Jars".

Segment 2

  • The 'Bots parody the Appreciating Our Parents short, with Crow as the clueless main character and Servo as the unseen narrator telling him to appreciate Gypsy's hard work in keeping the SOL clean.

Segment 3

  • The crew puts on a presentation celebrating the "incredibly-varied" and "highly-expressive" career of Tor Johnson.

Segment 4

  • The 'Bots take various lost parts from the board games aboard the SOL and turn them into a new board game about The Unearthly. It's exhausting and confusing just for Joel to read the rulebook.

Segment 5

  • The crew read letters like the Dead End Kids. Dr. Forrester joins in, too.


The Mystery Science Theater 3000 version provides the following Tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Dr. Forrester to Joel: "Look, you bombastic biscuit boy..."
  • Calvinball: Crow and Tom cobble together various leftover board game parts into a board game version of The Unearthly. Joel spends so long explaining the rules, which mostly have to do with how players can lose a turn, they don't actually get to play the game before Commercial Sign comes on.
  • Continuity Nod: A snapshot of the junk-cluttered SOL bridge includes past Invention Exchange items, including the Big Head, the Cellulite Phone and standup of Judge Wapner.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": When Mary corrects her doll's posture, Joel starts screaming, "Oh, no! My spiiine! AAAAAAAAAGH!" Tom supplies the cracking sound effects as well.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Players who lose one turn, lose one turn."
  • Advertisement:
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Invoked during the Posture Pals riffing, as a kid is shown dressed in this manner while working with his dad on a model plane.
    Narrator: Jimmy's father reminds Jimmy when he stands off-balance. An airplane shouldn't stand crooked... So Jimmy remembers: a boy shouldn't, either.
    Tom: Nor should he wear tacky Hawaiian shirts.
  • Mythology Gag: Dr. Forrester briefly taps into Dr. Erhardt when telling Joel and the bots "Enjoy!" after announcing the experiment.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Crow follows Carradine's request to 'retire' with "Why? Are you falling apart?" before excusing himself for using the wrong punchline.
  • Primal Scene: Implied to be happening when Tommy peeks in on his parents after supper. (They're just doing the dishes. Whew.)
    Tom Servo: Mom? Dad? OH MY GOD THAT'S DISGUSTING!...Oh.
  • Running Gag: Tor Johnson's delivery of "Time for go to bed!" became a staple for the MST3K crew, even appearing in RiffTrax's commentary for Plan 9 from Outer Space.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Totally Radical: After a bizarrely fast-paced dialogue scene, Joel and the Bots start talking like old movie gangsters. Eventually, it spreads to the Mads as well, with Frank imploring Dr. Forrester to "do your Leo Gorcey".